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Planning Your Strategy: Defining the Terms that Matter

We here at Granicus know defining key performance indicators (KPIs) is the cornerstone of completing successful projects, such as increasing public engagement or building brand awareness, that are on time and within budget. Without establishing these baselines, we,and our government clients, set ourselves up to be easily misguided, distracted, and unsuccessful.

With that in mind, we want to make sure we’re defining those KPIs correctly. We’d all acknowledge “goal” and “objective” have different meanings. But in actuality, most of us use them interchangeably or incorrectly, selling projects and organizations short. It makes a difference! So to help you think about how to better frame your KPIs and projects, here’s our advice on how to define goals vs. objectives.

  1. Goal

A goal can simply be thought of as a broad, primary outcome. Things like, “build brand awareness” or “drive permit sales.” A goal should be a brief and general statement outlining a desired impact on an organization or department. A goal is not about how you’re going to do something, but rather emphasis on the desired result.

  1. Objectives

Objectives are the measurable steps you’ll take to fulfill a strategy, and ultimately, hit your goal. Objectives should be created with the acronym “SMART” in mind.

  • S – Smart
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Actionable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Time-bound

For example, if your goal is to “build brand awareness,” your strategy should be to explore untapped audiences or outreach to inactive audiences. Ask yourself:

  • Which medium is most appropriate: Communications Cloud? Website? Offline? All of the above?
  • How will we measure and analyze? What’s our baseline?
  • Do we have the staff, time, budget and skillset to accomplish this?
  • What timeframe do we want to put in place so we know when we are ready to measure?

Putting your goal and strategy through this test may lead you to a hypothetical objective; for example, “Grow our subscriber list by 25 percent in 2017.” That’s a strategic action that’s measurable, time-based and realistic.

  1. Strategy

Another misused term that can take on many meanings: strategy. Strategy in the context of goals and objectives is the approach you plan to take to achieve your goal. Again, not the specific actions or steps, but the method of attack. If your goal is “Build brand awareness,” your strategy may be to educate untapped audiences about your mission, or try to gain back subscribers you may have lost by telling them why you’re better than ever.

Then what?

Don’t spend time trying to fit the specifics into your goals and objectives. Once they’re clearly defined, you’ll establish the tactics to achieve them. Growing a subscriber list may include tactics like leveraging Grancius’ Featured Government Updates, running a re-engagement campaign, or creating a website overlay. Keep in mind tactics within a project may shift, but the goal(s), strategy, and objective(s) should always remain static.

With these definitions in mind, think back to the projects you’re running or have run. Of the ones that went well, did you feel your goals and objectives were clearly stated, and were referenced back throughout the project? Of the projects currently running, do the goals and objectives make sense? Do they line up with these definitions? Most importantly, do they even exist?

Give it some thought. A seemingly simple approach to KPIs can go a long way in improving the success of your projects.

If you need help planning your digital communications strategy, be sure to download the 2017 Strategic Workbook that has step-by-step guidance on preparing for an effective strategy.